The trade balance posted a deficit of USD 0.1 billion in May, below our forecast of a deficit of USD 2.2 billion and market consensus (as per Bloomberg) of a deficit of USD 1.1 billion. The 12-month rolling trade balance narrowed to a deficit of USD 24.4 billion in May (from a deficit of USD 26.6 billion in April), supported mainly by a lower energy trade deficit of USD 35.4 billion (from a deficit of USD 37.1 billion), while the non-energy trade balance stood at a surplus of USD 10.9 billion (from a surplus of USD 10.5 billion). At the margin, using three-month annualized seasonally adjusted figures, the trade balance stood at a deficit of USD 14.9 billion in May (from a deficit of USD 14.4 billion in 1Q23), with the non-energy and energy trade balances at a surplus of USD 9.8 billion (from a surplus of USD 19.0 billion) and a deficit of USD 24.7 billion (from a deficit of USD 33.4 billion), respectively.
Non-energy imports momentum remained positive. Also using seasonally adjusted figures, non-energy imports fell by 0.7% mom/sa, dragged by intermediate (-1.2%) and capital (-1.1%) imports, while consumption imports stood at 2.6%. The qoq/saar growth rate of non-oil imports stood at a still positive 6.5% in May (from 4.8% in 1Q23).
Our trade balance forecast stands at a deficit of USD 23 billion for 2023. Manufacturing exports growth will likely be curbed by a softer U.S. economy, which will be mitigated by a slower growth of non-energy imports as internal demand softens. A strong currency is also likely to contribute to the trade deficit.